Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natick Farmers' Market started

Natick Farmers' Market was open as of last Saturday, May 15. I knew full well that not much would be for sale at the first farmers' market of the season. This is New England, not California. Sure, there was something to buy -- pottery, baked goods, pasta, and other stuff I consider to be fillers. To me a farmers' market is all about the produce. I got almost everything available: scallions and asparagus. The only other thing was zucchini, but I already had those in my fridge. There was a ton of potted herbs for sale for people to start their gardens. I also picked up a fromage blanc from Foxboro Cheese Co. It was lemon honey flavored and fabulously tangy (like a strained ricotta with a serious tang, or a farmer's cheese with perfectly smooth texture). Yes, they are the same guys that sell raw milk at their farm, but unfortunately, it's still illegal for them to bring it to the farmer's market.

Asparagus was stunning. I seared some of it for Sammy (my almost 3 year old). That's her favorite way to eat "paragus." The rest, I shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons and dressed with a lemon mustard vinaigrette. If you've never had a raw asparagus salad, it's worth a try. When shaved thin, it's tender and juicy (though labor intensive). On a whim, I tossed some of those scallions with fromage blanc, rolled the cheese into balls and wrapped with asparagus ribbons. Of course wrapping a savory salad around a slightly sweet cheese is not the best idea, but a part of me wanted to really bite into that first farmer's market of the season. It was not very balanced, but splendid at the same time.

Asparagus Salad

1 Lb of asparagus
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Snap the woody ends of asparagus one at a time. Each will break where it starts to get tender. Place one asparagus spear on a working surface so that it's lying parallel to you. Shave into ribbons with a vegetable peeler from the trimmed stem end towards the tip, stopping about an inch from the tip. Reserve tips for some other use, like blanching or searing. Repeat with remaining spears and place them in to a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and mustard together. Add the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking. Dress asparagus with about half of this dressing and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste and add more dressing, salt, and pepper as needed.

Serving suggestions:
  1. Add any of the following for a more substantial salad: cooked white beans, fennel, radishes, thinly sliced cooked fingerling potatoes, scallions. You will need more dressing if you are adding more stuff.
  2. Serve as a side to a poached egg -- very classy!
  3. Wrap around a small piece of feta or goat cheese to make bite size bundles -- fun appetizer.

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